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Dakar 2007: Mixed fortunes for the Repsol KTM Riders in Atar.

Mixed fortunes for Repsol riders and drivers today at the Lisbon Dakar Rally. The entrance in Mauritania brought thursday the first Dakar stage victory for Jordi Viladoms, but on friday the same protagonist had to see how his situation radically changed after a crash. After the first refuelling, Viladoms started behind team mate Marc Coma and Isidre Esteve. In an area in which no danger had been marked on the road book and while riding behind the two other riders, Viladoms hit a stone which was hidden in the sand and was thrown off his bike.

Viladoms suffered several fractures in the crash and was assisted by the doctors of the organization, first on site and then at the bivouac located in Atar. The Repsol rider has fractured his left elbow and the scaphoid bone of his left wrist; fractures in two fingers of his right hand and a further fracture in his right ankle which he has also dislocated.

The medical services of the Organization reduced the injury in his right ankle and immobilized the rest of the affected areas. This afternoon, at 20.00 local time, Viladoms will be taken to the University Hospital Dr. Negrín in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In 24 or 48 hours, after having him under observation, he will be taken to Barcelona. Viladoms, who did not loose conscience at any time, hopes to be back in Barcelona soon to have his injuries operated. The rest of the Team Repsol KTM riders had an incident-free day, despite Marc Coma and Giovanni Sala feeling very sorry for what had happened to their team mate. Sala was fourth today and made a big jump in the overall standings, to the sixth place. Coma, sixth fastest today is still leading the overall standings with an advantage of a bit over 10 minutes over second classified, Isidre Esteve

Jordi Viladoms: "I was riding behind Marc (Coma) and Isidre (Esteve) and we almost reached the first refuelling together. It was a comfortable pace and everything went perfect. The Organization had already warned us during the briefing yesterday evening, that there were a lot of hidden stones in the sand in one section of the route, which was exactly the section after the refuelling. And that’s exactly what happened to me; I was riding comfortably behind them after the refuelling and then I suddenly hit a hidden stone, in an area where the road book did not mark any danger and despite standing on the footrest to try to recover the balance, I just couldn’t and I ended up on the ground. It was a heavy fall and I immediately noticed that I had hurt myself. I’m sorry for the team, because I won’t be able to contribute with my work anymore for the rest of the Dakar. I really hope that everything keeps on working as it has been so far and to have another reason for joy in Dakar."

Marc Coma: "It’s been a very difficult stage, not only as regards navigation; the weather conditions were not of much help either, because there was a heavy sand storm and visibility was almost null. Opening the track is very tiring and it became complicated, because the rider gets especially tired with this weather and it is easy to make navigation mistakes. The most important is that we’ve reached Atar. Tomorrow we’ll have the rest day. Our aim was to arrive here in the leading group and that’s what we’ve done. What happened to Jordi Viladoms is a big shame, a strong blow for the team, but at least it’s nothing serious and I wish him a quick recovery. The first kilometres after refuelling are always complicated because our tanks are filled, the bike reacts slower and although we were not riding too fast, such things happen.

Until the refuelling Isidre (Esteve) and I were switching places in the lead. When any of us had a small problem the other would take over and the pace hasn’t been too high. The rest day is always a bit of a contradiction because even if you are looking forward to it, right now I would like to move on, because it also breaks somehow the rhythm. But, well, it will also be good for the machines and the mechanics will be able to work with ease, because they’ve had little time and were always in a hurry these days. I’ll try to relax; there must be reason for a rest day to be included."

Giovanni Sala: "I’m happy with my result but sad after what happened to Jordi Viladoms. What happened to him is a shame. Yesterday he won his first stage in the Dakar and today he ended up in a helicopter on the way to the hospital. Fortunately he has no serious injuries and Jordi will be back racing in a few months. I really hope he gets well soon. As regards the sporting aspect I’m satisfied because I finished the special well today and I’m in a good position to help Marc if necessary. The stage has been hard but very beautiful. Tomorrow we’ll have a rest day to get strength back and continue to Dakar."

2007/01/13 | 15:23 CET | Editor: MR/Repsol

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